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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Loneliest Vampire in NYC out...soon.

Yes I know the publication date was supposed to be today, I'm only too aware I've missed my own deadline.
I've been getting a few messages from interested would be readers and while I certainly appreciate your enthusiasm for my new novel, I am indeed sorry to report that publication of Loneliest Vampire in NYC has been delayed.
It will be out soon, but I have been a little sidetracked by my other project the musical/comedy Night of the B Movie with rewrites and rehearsals for that play which launches in Sept (the ads are booked so there's no changing that date.)
It won't be a long wait however I am back working with my editor to get Loneliest Vampire in NYC out as soon as possible and again I thank everyone for their interest.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The drive-in movie: where did you go?

Well of course we all know what happened to the dive-in movie theatre it was called the real estate boom. Vast tracts of land reserved as a theatre for cars and a truly immense screen, these days it's hard to believe anyone came up with such a concept.
Drive-ins were already dying out pretty quickly when I was a kid. We went a few times as a family summer outing to one of the few remaining drive-ins, which was a fair drive from our home. And they were long gone by the time I was a teenager so I never got to experience the fun of going with a group of friends or taking a date (did people really go on dates to the drive-in? It just seems so impossibly cliche).
I had always wanted to experience going to the drive-in as an adult, I felt cheated, and I had built up nostalgic images of what it would be like based on the few times I had gone as a child. As a movie buff you don't want to just experience the film you, ideally, want to experience it in the right environment. It's bad enough the old movie palaces are almost all gone as well, replaced with the soulless multiplexes of suburbia (but that's a whole other rant).
There are still old movie houses to be found and some are enjoying a revival as people realize just how much better the movie going experience is when you're not surrounded by drunk teenagers.
But the drive-in is far more elusive, you have to drive far and wide to hunt one down. It was on just such a long drive, a cross-country car trip a few years ago that I stumbled across one of the few remaining drive-ins in North America. In a field just outside of Winnipeg me and my then girlfriend saw the giant screen looming on the horizon like some ancient artifact. It was early evening and it would be a few hours before dusk but she knew there was no way I was passing up the opportunity to go to a drive-in movie, and she was in enthusiastic agreement.
A warm summer night at a double feature bill at a drive-in somewhere on a wide open plain in Manitoba,  if you've been lucky enough to experience that then you know you will never forget it. All the more so because you know the chance to do so is fast coming to a close.
As I later learned that that drive-in too had fallen to the onslaught of development. It was hard to believe really since it was out in the middle of no where. But then there are those people who think drive-ins are wasted space no matter where they are. Yes it's sad such people exist, they don't get the joy of being huddled in the front seat of your car eating stale popcorn and watered down pop, surrounded by other people huddled down in their cars, while in front of you plays a hollywood blockbuster in all its towering cinematic glory. Sure you could rent it for $3.99 and watch it at home, but that's hardly the point.
Anyway one of my goals this summer (I like to set the bar high) is to try and experience the-science-fiction-double-feature-picture-show at the drive-in one last time, although it may already be too late.  

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Celebrities who may or may not be vampires

Have you ever played the who's a vampire game? Come on admit, we've all played a variation of it. Basically you look around and guess who, if there were vampires, would be the likeliest candidate, or who would make the best vampire.
Most do this with famous people for the simple reason that guessing whether or not the bus driver could be or would make for a good vampire seems slightly lamer. Just the same it's completely lame to pick people who have already played vampires. And if you pick Robert Pattinson, well sorry but you're an idiot, since he was never a good vampire on screen and would very likely be even worse in real life.
Same goes for Kate Beckinsale, although she does get points for looking exceptionally hot in PVC. Plus she has made movies that were actually good.
But speaking of Underworld, I'm going to go ahead and break my own rule (feel free to call me lame) and say Bill Nighy would very likely make a very good vampire in real life. Tall lanky, of a broad moral compass (at least most of the characters he plays are) and looks good in black.
Okay getting back to the original thesis, who would make a good vampire? Lady Gaga, pale skin, freaky looking, only seen at night, hell she probably does drink human blood for all we know.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, yes I'm serious, think about, wild staring eyes, weird accent, power hungry, he's a perfect vampire. Demi Moore, doesn't age, when's the last time anyone saw her out during the day. Tom Cruise, see Demi Moore. Actually when I think of those last two it does sort of freak me out, I mean what are they living on that allows them to look the way they do anyway.
Jerry Seinfeld, sure Jerry Seinfeld, why? I tell you why, file it under the guy you would have least expected that's why. Plus he's kind of pale looking.
Henry Kissinger, powerful, can't be killed, has hypnotic like powers over world leaders, he could definitely be a vampire, if he's not already one.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Twilight for Guys

Are the vampires in Twilight, well, vampires?

Technically Twilight purports to be a novel or series of novels about vampires, but is it really?
The quick answer is no, there's a werewolf in there as well.
But the long answer is...actually it's still just pretty much a no.
I guess the Edward Cullen character displays some typical vampiric qualities, immortal, can't tan, drinks blood, is really sensitive and caring, wait, what?
Yeah that last part is a problem for many fans of the vampire genre - Edward isn't a vampire, he's just another self-absorbed bad boy with 'issues' and a pale complexion.
He's the type girls like Bella tend to get all dreamy about and girls who read books with girls like Bella in them get all dreamy about. That however, as much as the author Stephenie Meyer may claim otherwise, does not make him a vampire. There's no real threat to him, and not much conflict either, other than deciding which shade of black to wear.
After centuries of literature that defined the vampire as a souless, dark, lurking, albeit in many cases, highly charismatic ghoul, who preyed on young women in a pseudo-sexual ritual that satisfied a deep, deep hunger, we're now introduced to someone who looks as if he belongs in a Gucci ad.
It just doesn't work, unless of course you happen to be a 17-year old girl who likes bad boys, but not if they're too icky.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Top 5 vampire books

There's a lot of vampire literature out there, but not much of it is any good, hence the reason this list only encompasses five rather than the usual top 10. We could do a worst vampire book list but that would require wading through far too much dreck and we have better things to do, like alphabetizing our soup cans.

#1 Dracula - Bram Stoker's epistolary novel still stands at the top of the heap. Despite being written 115 years ago it is a breezy and entertaining read even by today's standards. Actually it's chief criticism over the years has been that it is a loosely crafted poorly developed novel. We wonder what those critics would say after reading Twilight?

#2 Interview with a Vampire - Ann Rice's first book in her vampire chronicles was actually not bad, not bad at all. A vampire novel written in the first person was somewhat groundbreaking for its time (1976). It creates a great sense of mystery about the characters and the settings: New Orleans and Paris were extremely well crafted.

#3 Anno Dracula - the first in a series of books by Kim Newman, a what if scenario as in what if the characters in Bram Stoker's Dracula had failed in defeating the vampire count. In this alternate universe Dracula rules great Britain and vampires integrate into everyday society. Well researched book that combines historical figures with the fictional.

#4 Carmilla - Think lesbian vampires were born in 1970s soft core, guess again Sheridan Le Fanu created the genre in 1872.

#5 I am Legend - Richard Matheson's sci-fi vampire/zombie novel, which has been made into several films. As usual the book is far better.

Yeah that's it but if you like vampire literature any one of those five if not all should be on your Kindle. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Time for the anti-Twilight?

Rumour has it that Twilight author Stephenie Meyer is worried that a book about vampires that doesn't include endlessly brooding teenagers, and some really needy chick trying to find a cool boyfriend, could wake people up to just how bad the Twilight series really is.

Some people have commented that while they do like vampire novels they wish there was more on offer than warmed over Harlequin Romance plots with supernatural elements sprinkled in.

In a recent (and completely unscientific test) several readers were given printed out pages copied from either a trashy romance novel or Twilight with the names blacked out.

None of the readers involved could distinguish which was which. All the more alarming since the trashy romance novel in question was about a young bullfighter from Seville who meets and falls in love with a beautician from Sherman Oaks while on vacation at Disneyland.

The central conflict of that story is whether the bullfighter should give up his profession and move to California and become a convenience store clerk. There is also a side plot about whether the beautician should stick with manis and pedis or branch out into facials.

Whereas Twilight is about Bella trying to decide like which guy is totally the hottest, that plus there's some stuff about werewolves and vampires. 

Monday, 6 June 2011

The Loneliest Vampire in NYC

Vampires versus werewolves

There's an ongoing debate in the world of geekdom about just who would come out on top in a mano e mano showdown between a vampire and a werewolf.
They debate undead strength versus lycan strength, hearing ability, visual acuity and fang and jaw strength.
The debates get heated and a lot of names get thrown around, which at the end of the day is sill, just plain silly. Why? I tell you why, there's really no contest, you can debate the strengths and weaknesses of either supernatural being until the cows come in, but it still comes down to one thing.
Vampires don't fetch. That's right, all any reasonably knowledgable vampire needs to protect him or herself from sudden werewolf attack is a small stick. Werewolves, like any other canine, cannot resist the urge to fetch. And while said werewolf is running after the stick the vampire attacks him from the back and there you have it game over.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

So Jim Jarmusch is making a vampire film

We're not quite sure what to make of the news that Jim Jarmusch is making a vampire flick.
The independent filmmaker known for movies like Down by Law and Ghost Dog among others seems a strange fit for the Twilight crowd.
The film is to star Tilda Swinton, who was sublime in Orlando and who has starred in Jarmusch's last two films, also appearing along with Swinton is Michael Fassbender and John Hurt.
It's being billed as a 'vampire love story,' how original, what vampire tale these days isn't a love story slash soap opera?
Although we suspect that Jarmusch's take may be the anti-Twilight version of the genre. In which case The Loneliest Vampire in NYC is ahead of the curve (out June 28th).
Jarmusch's film doesn't begin filming until early 2012 so we're at least a year away from seeing his version of the vampire genre will look like.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Guilty pleasures: The Vampire Diaries

by Dale Raven North

I don’t know how it happened; maybe it was too much idle time or too much alcohol, but I watched the pilot episode of “The Vampire Diaries” and was immediately hooked (or bitten). There’s no excuse for it. The story is implausible, the writing mediocre, and the product placement insufferable, but the vampires are really hot, and once I started I couldn’t stop.

The premise is simple: two brothers move to their birthplace, a small, colonial town in Virginia. One of the brothers, Stefan Salvator, falls in love with a classmate at the high school, the fetchingly exotic Elena. Elena cannot resist Damon’s James Dean-esque, brooding charms and they become an item. Stefan’s brother, the smoldering and dangerous Damon, develops a not well-concealed attraction for Elena and a predictable love triangle takes shape. (I know what you are thinking: “This sounds like a ‘Twilight’ rip-off.” Well, it’s not. Neither of the brothers are werewolves.) Soon Stefan confirms that the Salvator brothers are vampires. The plot thickens when it is revealed that Elena is the doppelganger of Katherine, the vampire who turned the brothers Salvator into blood suckers 150 years ago and was the prior object of their shared affections. Damon and the many other vampires that flock to Mystic Falls have soon turned half the town into vampires (and the other half doesn’t seem to notice).

But it doesn’t stop with vampires. The werewolves show up in packs, bent on killing vampires. And there are witches, whose primary talent seems to be giving vampires migraine headaches. At this point, virtually everyone is undead, canine or supernatural – except for Elena’s clueless aunt who doesn’t notice that everyone is dying.

The Vampire Diaries irritates me. No one seems to work, but simply engage in paranormal activities and attend endless balls and galas. The cops believe that all the blood-drained corpses are due to animal attacks and do nothing to investigate. And there’s the product placement. Fine, they drive Fords and use AT&T, but I cannot accept that the characters all use Bing. More than once, characters have said things like, “Let’s research that online. Let’s Bing it.” I can believe that they are vampires, but I cannot suspend my disbelief sufficiently to accept that young people are using Bing instead of Google.

Despite its many flaws, every week I look forward to this mystic melodrama. I guess there’s a lot I’ll put up with for the sake of a few super hot vampires.

Top 10 worst vampires

To maintain the yin and yang of the universe here as a counterpoint to the top ten are the top ten worst vampires ever to appear in popular culture.
#1 Robert Pattison as Edward Cullen, ummm, does this really need an explanation?
#2 Gary Oldman as Dracula, acting next to Keanu Reeves will make anyone look good, but this is the worst version of Dracula ever performed, despite Francis Ford Coppola's direction and those cool shades.
#3 John C. Reilly as Larten Crepsley in The Vampire's Assistant. John, John, John we have always been such big fans of your work, until this sad excuse for a film came along.
#4 Angie Everhart as Lilith in Bordello of Blood. The good thing about this film is Dennis Miller was still funny back in the mid-90s. Everything else, especially Everhart as the Lilith really, really sucked and not in the good vampire way.
#5 George Hamilton as Dracula in Love at First Bite.A vampire with a suntan, they didn't really think that one through did they? As bad as Hamilton is in this 1979 comedy, Oldman still gets our vote for worst Dracula portrayal.
#6 Langley Kirkwood as Count Orlock in Dracula 3000. It's called Dracula 3000 so really what would you expect? But just the same as low as most people would set the bar on this one Kirkwood could still get under it.
#7 Chris Sarandon as Jerry Dandrige in the original Fright Night. This 1985 B movie wasn't actually that bad (which we presume is why they're releasing a remake) but Sarandon's disco lovin', gold medallioned , greasy looking, womanizing vampire held this movie back. Even if he could hypnotize women we still don't believe they'd go for him.
#8 Shane Brolly as Kraven in Underworld. As much as we like kate Beckinsale in PVC, we couldn't stand Brolly's performance, which consisted of him snarling ever bit of his dialogue. We imagine he thought that made him look menacing, we thought it just made him look pre-menstrual.
#9 Aaliyah as Queen Akasha in Queen of the Damned. Yeah this movie just pretty much sucked, also not in the good vampire way (we know same bad pun twice, but we don't care).
#10 Stuart Townsend as Lestat De Lioncourt in Queen of the Damned (see above). 

Top ten vampires of all time!

Here they are the results as compiled through the use of the Kray supercomputers buried deep in the Loneliest Vampire Blog bunker somewhere in South Dakota to bring you the reader valuable up to date information such as this.

#1: Bela Lugosi as Dracula, needs no explanation he's simply the best.
#2: Frank Langella as Dracula, hard to top Lugosi but still a very good performance as everyone's favourite vampire.
#3: The Count, yes he's on a children's show, but The Count was probably our first exposure to vampires. Witness his enduring popularity by how many people want to see Jason Segal produce his vampire puppet show, The Count definitely touched a lot of deep down inside in our formative years.
#4: Max Schreck, as Count Orlock. Rumoured to actually have been a real vampire, such was Schreck's performance in Nosferatu, it's about as creepy a vampire ever to be shown on the silver screen.
#5: Kiefer Sutherland, yes his character's name in The Lost Boys was the less than menacing David but that film remains one of the most popular vampire films ever, And the dyed blond mullet, the earrings and the leather jacket for some reason made Sutherland into a pretty convincing vampire.
#6: Maila Nurmi, as Vampira in the short lived mid-fifties TV show Nurmi created an image that inspired millions of vampire fetished obsessed boys and girls around the world. Even though her locally produced Los Angeles show lasted less than a year, Vampira has become an iconic character and much imitated, most notably the 1980s Elvira mistress of the dark.
#7 James Marsters as Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A great anti-hero and a refreshing change from the usual brand of brooding vampire. The character of Spike was immensely popular during the series run and beyond and a good example of how dry wit and vampirism can easily go hand in hand. We even forgive him the bleached blond hairstyle.
#8 Tom Cruise as Lestat in Interview with a Vampire. Normally I can't stand the 'Cruiser' and his toothy smile and Scientology self-rightousness, but hey give credit where it's due, as a self-aborbed, decadent vampire plantation owner he was pretty good.
#9 Al Lewis as Grandpa Munster on the Munsters. An old vampire? Why not and the sad thing is why did they make Adam's Family but not the Munsters, which is clearly the superior show (any vampires on Adam's Family? No, need we say more.)
#10 Stephen Moyer as 'Vampire' Bill Compton on True Blood. Sigh, we hate to include someone so new to the vampire game in a top ten of all time list but we have to admit, Moyer's portrayal of a civil war era southern gentleman turned vampire, trying to figure out the 21st century, well it's pretty damn good actually.

The vampire puppet musical

By Alan Forsythe

A couple of years ago I saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall with my friend singer/composer Dana-Marie Battaglia; when it came to the part where Jason Segal sings Vampire's Lament we both turned to each other and said, 'I want to see a vampire puppet musical.'
It hasn't happend yet but I would say it was one of my inspirations for writing The Loneliest Vampire in NYC, hopefully my book will click with all of the people out there still clamouring to see a complete production of Segal's fictional play.

Dracula's Lament